James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

December 24


By Richard Henry Stoddard (1825–1903)

  • William Makepeace Thackeray died Dec. 24, 1863.

  • THE ANGEL came by night

    (Such angels still come down),

    And like a winter cloud

    Passed over London town;

    Along its lonesome streets,

    Where Want had ceased to weep,

    Until it reached a house

    Where a great man lay asleep;

    The man of all his time

    Who knew the most of men,

    The soundest head and heart,

    The sharpest, kindest pen.

    It paused beside his bed,

    And whispered in his ear;

    He never turned his head,

    But answered, “I am here.”

    Into the night they went.

    At morning, side by side,

    They gained the sacred Place

    Where the greatest Dead abide.

    Where grand old Homer sits

    In godlike state benign;

    Where broods in endless thought

    The awful Florentine;

    Where sweet Cervantes walks,

    A smile on his grave face;

    Where gossips quaint Montaigne,

    The wisest of his race;

    Where Goethe looks through all

    With that calm eye of his;

    Where—little seen but Light—

    The only Shakespeare is!

    When the new Spirit came,

    They asked him, drawing near,

    “Art thou become like us?”

    He answered, “I am here.”